Armstrong Masquers opens 2014 season with Piece of My Heart

By Charles Norton, Staff Writer

On September 10, Armstrong Masquers will open their 2014-15 season with Shirley Lauro’s gripping and emotional drama, “Piece of My Heart,” in the Black Box Theatre at Jenkins Hall.

The play, based on true events, centers around six women who went to Vietnam; two Army nurses, one Navy nurse, an intelligence officer, a Red Cross worker, and a country western singer were sent to entertain the troops.  The play portrays each woman before, during and after the war, concluding as each one leaves a special token at the Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Director Gabriel Michael selected this play because the powerful coming of age theme allows the audience to search their own memories and reminds them how far they have come to overcome their own personal issues in life.

“I think this play is so effective because not only is it sentimental and action-packed, it also provides powerful roles written for women,” Michael said.  He also feels that the play-with-music style of “Piece of My Heartis effective at conveying the mood and tone of the play.

About her character as Mary Jo, a country western singer, Diana Richardson said, “I love how sincere and caring Mary Jo is onstage.  Her desperation for fame is fueled by her desire for love.”  As a Theatre major, Richardson shares with the character her own love of music and personal goals.  Richardson has played guitar for four years and said, “Music helps me express my emotions.”

Cast member Amira Williams also identifies closely  with her character, Martha, and said, “Like me, when Martha goes a little crazy, she tries to take charge, but does not always handle it very well.”

Williams, a self proclaimed “Army brat,” feels that the importance of this play is relevant to everyone today.

“The Vietnam War is a modern event in history where the survivors are still dealing with some of the same issues today.  A lot of younger generations don’t know very much about that war.  History can and will repeat itself if we let it,” she said.

Michael is happy that the play captures the tone and movement within the environment of Vietnam. “Piece of My Heart” takes place over three decades from the 1960’s through the 1980’s.

“I want the audience to sense the movement within this environment,” he said.

He and the cast feel it is also special that they will have a performance on 9/11.

The Vietnam Vets Association called Piece of my Heart– “The most enduring play on Vietnam in the nation.”

Performances of “Piece of My Heart” will run September 10-14; 7:30 p.m.  Box Office opens at 6:30 p.m..

Tickets are now available at the Fine Arts Box Office from noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, or purchased online at Tickets may also be purchased at Jenkins Box Office one hour before the performance, but keep in mind that seating for Black Box performances is limited, and tickets seem to sell quickly, so get yours early.

Discounts are available to military, seniors, alumni association members, and students.  Armstrong students, faculty and staff tickets are free of charge with a valid PirateCard.